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Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease is a general term for the most common cause of lower back and neck pain.

Nearly everyone’s discs break down over time, but not all individuals feel pain.

This condition is not technically a disease since it can develop over time as a part of the normal aging process, or as a result of injury.

Ultimately the term Degenerative Disc Disease refers to the gradual weakening of the discs that serve as a cushion between the spinal vertebrae.

Spinal discs are similar to shock absorbers between the vertebrae, or the bones, of your spine. They help the back with staying flexible, so you can bend and twist.

Eventually, from age or injury, small tears, will in time, compromise the disc wall. Any tears near the nerves can become painful, and if the disc wall breaks down, the disc’s soft internal core may push through the cracks.

The disc may bulge, or slip out of place, which is called a slipped or herniated disk. At this stage, it can affect nearby nerves.

The gradual changes in the discs cause weakness and eventually leads to dysfunction and pain.

Normally healing occurs but leaves scar tissue and a weakened area of the disc wall. Eventually, this weakening promotes instability of the spine.

Common symptoms of this condition include:

  • Sharp or constant pain in your back and neck.

  • Walking may reduce the pain

  • Pain that gets worse when sitting, bending, lifting, or twisting. (when discs have more stain on them)

  • Changing positions often or lying down helps reduce the pain

  • Numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes


Spinal discs have a low blood supply, and once injured, they cannot repair themselves easily.

Consequently, a spiral of degeneration can set in leading to a further decline. It may take some 20 or more years, but it will generally follow in 3 stages:

Acute pain makes normal and movement and function of the back difficult. The bone (vertebrae), where the injury occurred becomes relatively unstable. Over a long period of time, the patient will have back pain that comes and goes.

The body re-stabilizes the injured segment of the back. The patient experiences fewer bouts of back pain. Periods of severe pain that come and go.

That last form day or into moths this pain can affect the lower back, buttocks and thighs or the neck, depending on where the affected disc is, and can radiate the arms and hands.

Depending upon the severity and advancement of the disc degeneration, it can be treated with instrument-based chiropractic or Atlas Orthogonal.

We offer the non-surgical alternative of spinal disc decompression as well as laser and infrared light therapy.

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